Low-income minorities suffer more diabetic retinopathy
Recent data published in the journal Diabetes Care suggests that low-income minority patients aren't seeking out annual eye care screenings – and diabetic retinopathy is on the rise among these populations.
The study found that non-Hispanic whites seek out eye care more frequently than minority patients, and that lack of health insurance may have been the biggest barrier to having these critical exams. Alarmingly, diabetic minority patients were actually found to seek out eye care less often at the end of the study than they did at the start of the study period in 2002.
Lack of preventative care in part to blame
According to the National Eye Institute, as many as 50 percent of Hispanics with diabetes show symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, a condition that impairs vision and eventually can lead to blindness.
“This study showed that Latinos develop certain vision conditions at different rates than other ethnic groups,” Rohit Varma, M.D., M.P.H., said in a press release.“The burden of vision loss and eye disease on the Latino community is increasing as the population ages, and many eye diseases are becoming more common.”
The researchers noted that health care system factors were responsible for the disparities in eye care seen in the study.
Affordable Care Act may help
New healthcare laws under the Affordable Care Act could help about eight in 10 uninsured minorities qualify for some type of eye care, reports the Department of Health and Human Services.
"Latinos who prefer Spanish can enroll through CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Spanish language website where consumers can go to create accounts, complete an online application, and shop for health plans that fit their budget and needs,” the agency stated.
If costly eye exam screenings are covered, minorities might be more likely to seek out care, the study authors suggested.
Source: Huffington Post